Workers’ Compensation Insurance and Gun Insurance

Motor vehicle insurance has been the obvious model for insurance advocated by this blog to provide for victims of gun violence. There are many parallels, especially with No-Fault versions to serving the gun situation. There is another place in our society were insurance was poorly working to protect injured persons and where society with the insurance industry has produced a system which has shown durable benefits in efficiently dealing with an important risk.

Prior to the adoption of workers’ compensation laws beginning in Maryland in 1902, workers had to prove that employers were negligent before they could collect any compensation for injuries. In addition to the expense and delay, workers in states like Maryland with contributory negligence laws were often faced with their employer’s claims that the worker contributed to his own injury. Few workers were protected by such a system. On the employer side, there were few limits to the liability of the employer who was found to be negligent. Workers would be paid on the basis of the injuries they suffered as long as they were work related. Employers would be relieved of liability for such accidents. Employers would be required to have suitable insurance or proof of financial ability to pay the required benefits.

The US Supreme Court ruled in 1917 in New York Central Railroad v. Sarah White (243 US 188) that under the 14th amendment compensation without considering fault or negligence would not be denial of due process of law.

Typical aspects of workers’ compensation desirable for gun insurance;

  1. Injured party (shooting victim) is not required to prove fault or negligence.
  2. Employer (gun owner) is required to have insurance to pay claims.
  3. Applicability is based on involvement of the job (gun) in the accident.
  4. Insurance pays for medical care and lost wages with perhaps a death benefit and support for survivors.
  5. Fault on the part of the worker does not bar receiving benefits.
  6. Uninsured employer (gun) funds can pay benefits where insurance is not in place.

Typical aspects of workers’ compensation not applicable or not desirable for gun insurance

  1. Relief of liability for negligent employers (gun owners).
  2. Benefits often based on fixed amounts for defined injuries rather than medical costs.

The Top-Down principle advocated by this blog can be applied to this model as well as to others. It requires that the original gun owner (usually the manufacturer) of a gun have insurance which only releases the insurer when another insurer (probably contracted by a buyer) take it up. This eliminates the need for the government to register guns or interface with the gun owners.

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